My Top 20 Favourite Reads of 2018

What an absolutely amazing year for books it has been! 

Just like last year, I thought splitting things up between series and stand-alones would help narrow down the list but nope. A Top 10 was never going to happen here. Despite the fact that my reading mojo was up and down like a bloody yo-yo all year, I still managed to read 250 books. Sure, that’s 50 less than last year but do I care? Clue : no, I don’t 😉

Anyway, I present to you My Top 20 Favourite (stand-alone) Reads of 2018. With apologies to the authors/books I had to drop from the list.

In no particular order, except for the Top 5, here we go!

Phoebe Locke – The Tall Man [my review]
Louise Voss – The Old You [my review]
Linwood Barclay – A Noise Downstairs [my review]
Mark Edwards – The Retreat [my review]

Ane Riel – Resin [no review]
Joanna Cannon – Three Things About Elsie [no review]
Gillian McAllister – No Further Questions [my review]
Shari Lapena – An Unwanted Guest [my review]

Lesley Kara – The Rumour [review to follow]
Karin Slaughter – Pieces of Her [my review]
SJI Holliday – The Lingering [my review]
Elly Griffiths – The Stranger Diaries [review to follow]

Gill Paul – The Lost Daughter [my review]
Louise Beech – The Lion Tamer Who Lost [my review]
Rachel Rhys – Fatal Inheritance [my review]

Top 5

5. C.J. Tudor – The Chalk Man [my review]
4. Ruth Ware – The Death of Mrs Westaway [my review]
3. Liz Nugent – Skin Deep [my review]
2. Elizabeth Haynes – The Murder of Harriet Monckton [my review]

My favourite book of the year is …

I don’t think this comes as a huge surprise. When I read this back in February, I said it would take something insanely special to knock this off the top spot. Skin Deep and Harriet Monckton came awfully close but in the end, “Agatha Christie on crack” won out. [my review]

A massive thank you to all the authors, publishers and Netgalley for making 2018 so spectacular! And to you, my fellow bloggers and readers, huge thanks for the support, for visiting and for commenting! ❤️

My Top 20 Favourite Series of 2018 (part one)

What an incredible year for books 2018 has been! I remember back in January already thinking compiling these end-of-year lists would be an impossible task. So just like last year, I’ve split things up. My favourite stand-alones will follow at a later date but in this post, I’m focusing on my favourite series. At least it will give me the opportunity to highlight more books.

Some of these may not have been published this year but since I read them this year, I mention them anyway alongside their most recent additions.

Because the list is so long (I had no idea I read so many series!), I’m splitting this post up into two parts.

So, in random order, My Top 20 Favourite Series of 2018 – Part One!

| Sarah Hilary – DI Marnie Rome |

I said it last year and I’ll say it again : Sarah Hilary’s writing just keeps getting better and better and this series is one of the strongest out there! [my review]

| Helen Fields – DI Luc Callanach |

Again, a corker of a series! I’ve loved this series from the very beginning and any crime fiction fan, of the not faint-hearted variety, should most definitely be reading this! [my reviews here and here]

| David Jackson – DS Nathan Cody |

An absolutely brilliant addition to an already outstanding series that I feel more people should be talking about! [my review]

| Angela Marsons – DI Kim Stone |

Was there ever any doubt these would be on the list? Still going utterly strong after nine books and still a series I’ll happily drop everything for when a new book publishes. [my review here and here]

| J.D. Barker – 4MK |

I’ve found that I’m leaning more towards books set in England lately but I gladly make an exception for the 4MK Thriller series because it just blows my mind! I’m incredibly excited to see how J.D. Barker wraps things up in the final instalment. [my review for The Fifth to Die]

| Johanna Gustawsson – Roy and Castells |

Modern crimes combined with historical fiction? Don’t mind if I do! If you’re looking for addictive page-turners, this is it! [my review]

| Cara Hunter – DI Adam Fawley |

One of those series that just hooked me from the first page. I thought Close To Home was amazing but In The Dark was even better! I can’t wait for book three! [my review for Close to Home]

| Sarah Ward – DC Connie Childs |

I’ve been reading this series from the beginning but have never reviewed it. These books tend to be published right before I leave on holiday in September and they are the first book I pick up when I’m settling down by the pool in Tuscany. I can never find the words to them justice and so don’t review them but consider them my very own special treat. So good!

| Alison Weir – The Six Tudor Queens |

Few people do Tudor fiction the way Alison Weir does and The Six Tudor Queens brings that era to life in the most fascinating way. [my review]

| Daniel Cole – Detective William Fawkes |

Slightly misleading to call it the second book in the Detective William Fawkes series since he’s not actually in it. Personally I didn’t really miss him all that much because of another character but I know other people did. Still, another gripping and exciting book that makes you anxiously await the next instalment. [my review]

So there we have it. Part one of my favourite series of the year. Anything here you’ve read as well? Enjoyed? Didn’t like at all? I’d ask you to mention which books you’d add to the list but since there’s more to come, we’ll leave that for now. Be sure to come back tomorrow for part two! 

Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen (trs Don Bartlett) @OrendaBooks @annecater #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #VargVeum

I’m absolutely delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen today, alongside my awesome fellow blog tour buddy Jen!

My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my review copy and to Anne Cater for inviting me to join the tour!

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Author : Gunnar Staalesen (translated by Don Bartlett)
Title : Big Sister
Series : Varg Veum
Pages : 259
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : June 20, 2018 (UK Paperback)

aboutthebook

Varg Veum receives a surprise visit in his office. A woman introduces herself as his half-sister, and she has a job for him. Her god-daughter, a 19-year-old trainee nurse from Haugesund, moved from her apartment in Bergen two weeks ago. Since then no one has heard anything from her. She didn’t leave an address. She doesn’t answer her phone. And the police refuse to take her case seriously.

Veum’s investigation uncovers a series of carefully covered-up crimes and pent-up hatreds, and the trail leads to a gang of extreme bikers on the hunt for a group of people whose dark deeds are hidden by the anonymity of the Internet. And then things get personal.

mythoughts

Varg Veum is back and hoo boy, what a return it is!

Varg Veum is surprised when a half-sister he’s never met shows up in his office. She needs his help in finding her goddaughter, Emma, who disappeared without a trace. Since Emma is nineteen and took personal belongings with her, the police don’t take her case seriously and aren’t looking for her. Varg Veum promises to investigate but he has no idea what he’s getting himself in to.

The investigation leads him to uncover a horrific crime, while also making the acquaintance of a gang of bikers. Now, I watched Sons of Anarchy. I know all about these types of bikers, the things they get up to and none of it is good. Soon things get personal and Varg may have just bitten off more than he can chew.

There are various threads to sink your teeth into in Big Sister and Varg Veum is kept incredibly busy. Not only is there his investigation into the missing teenager, but he might find himself inclined to dig a little deeper into his own family.

Once again, Gunnar Staalesen delivers with his crisp writing and a scenario that is current and feels incredibly realistic. There’s a delicious depth to his characters and it feels as if you’re there with them in the moment, as you become invested in them and their emotions. This is only the second book I’ve read by Staalesen but I already expect nothing less than an intricately plotted story. There are a few magnificent twists I didn’t see coming at all and it kept me utterly hooked from start to finish.

When I reviewed Wolves in the Dark last year, I mentioned I felt a little lost as I hadn’t read any of the previous books in this long-running series but I’m happy to say that this time around I had no problems whatsoever getting behind Varg Veum and I feel Big Sister reads perfectly well as a stand-alone. It is intriguing, full of suspense and another fantastic example of Scandi-Noir at its best!

Finally, shout-out to Don Bartlett for another seamless translation!

Big Sister is available to buy in ebook. The UK paperback will be published on June 20th.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over five million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is being filmed now. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, lives in Bergen with his wife.

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If Fear Wins by Tony J. Forder @TonyJForder @Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz

Its such a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog blitz for If Fear Wins by Tony J. Forder. My thanks to Sarah Hardy for the invitation and Bloodhound Books for my review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

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Author : Tony J. Forder
Title : If Fear Wins
Series : DI Bliss #3
Pages : 360
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : May 29, 2018

aboutthebook

When a torched body is found in a country lane, DI Bliss and Chandler are called in to investigate.

The detectives are drawn towards recent missing person reports and believe their victim will prove to be one of them. Bliss thinks he knows which, and fears the outcome if he is proven right.

Soon the body is identified, and Bliss and Chandler discover evidence suggesting this murder might be a terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, someone from Bliss’s past needs his help, and soon he is juggling his personal life with the demanding case. To make matters more complicated, MI5 and the Counter-Terrorist Unit are called in to help solve the case. But are they on the right track?

Bliss and Chandler soon find themselves in a race against time, and this might just be their most challenging case yet…

mythoughts

When a torched body is found, DI Bliss and Chandler are called in to investigate. Consulting their list of recent missing persons, DI Bliss quickly thinks he knows who the victim is. The evidence points to a terrorism attack. Or is that what investigators are merely meant to believe?

Meanwhile, someone from Bliss’ past makes a rather surprising appearance. This friend’s husband recently apparently committed suicide by jumping off a bridge but Bliss’ friend is convinced her husband would never do such a thing. Throw in some MI5, MI6 and a Counter-Terrorist Unit and Bliss sure has his work cut out!

Here’s a wee warning. Don’t be eating anything when you start this book. I promise you, your appetite will be gone in a flash. This is one of the most disturbing murder scenes I’ve ever read about. It made for some seriously uncomfortable reading and it’s definitely one I won’t be forgetting in a hurry. The setting is quite obviously meant to point a certain way but DI Bliss is suspicious about some rather convenient factors. Can he convince his superiors though?

True to form, Tony J. Forder once again delivers an incredibly multi-layered crime fiction story with various threads you feel should somehow be connected but there’s no way in high heaven you’ll figure out how. Or that’s what happened to me anyway. I was left guessing until the end as the author took me on a gripping journey through the criminal world in Peterborough. DI Bliss remains as determined as ever and I love how sometimes all that’s needed is that copper’s instinct, that gut feeling that something isn’t quite as it seems no matter what the evidence says.

This is the third instalment in the DI Bliss series. I think you can safely get away with treating this as a stand-alone but for the full experience, start at the beginning. You’ll notice, I’m sure, that this series is only getting better. The author has a firm grip on things that make a good crime story compelling. From well-developed characters to an intelligently plotted storyline and intriguing investigations, there’s a great deal to keep you hooked here.

If Fear Wins is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed crime thriller series featuring detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler. The first two books, Bad to the Bone and The Scent of Guilt, will be joined in the series on 29 May 2018 by If Fear Wins.

Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This was intended to be a stand-alone novel, but Tony is now considering the possibility of a follow-up.

One book that will definitely see a sequel is Scream Blue Murder. This was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller.

Tony lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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20 Books of Summer

 

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I don’t often join challenges but this one caught my eye last year on Cleopatra Loves Books and I really like the thought of being able to catch up on my overflowing TBR in this way.

20 Books of Summer is a yearly challenge by Cathy at Cathy746 with an aim to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2018 and running until 3 September 2018 and I’ve decided to join in.

Now, because I’m crazy and only decided this rather last minute, these 20 books will actually be read on top of the ones I’ve already committed myself to for blog tours. That’s the plan anyway. I hear you laughing. That’s okay. I’m laughing too. 😂

So, here are the 20 books on my list for now. I’ve spotted a few that seem rather long so I may need to switch those for something shorter. We’ll see.

In no particular order, here we go. With links to Goodreads for your convenience.

1. Rachel Rhys – Fatal Inheritance – [review]
2. Sarah Pinborough – Cross Her Heart – [review]
3. Cara Hunter – Close to Home – [review]
4. Riley Sager – Last Time I Lied – [review]

5. J.D. Barker – The Fifth to Die – [review]
6. Fredrick Backman – Us Against You – [review]
7. Sibel Hodge – Into the Darkness – [review]
8. Claire Douglas – Do Not Disturb – [review]

9. Shari Lapena – An Unwanted Guest – [review]
10. Louise Candlish – Our House – [review]
11. Steve Cavanagh – The Defence – [review]
12. Liz Nugent – Skin Deep – [review]

13. Amanda Jennings – The Cliff House – [review]
14. Michael Wood – The Hangman’s Hold – [review]
15. Celeste Ng – Little Fires Everywhere – [review]
16. Andrew Wilson – A Different Kind of Evil – [review]

17. Karin Slaughter – Pieces of Her – [review]
18. Ruth Ware – The Death of Mrs Westaway – [review]
19. Elly Griffiths – The Zig Zag Girl – [review]
20. Linwood Barclay – A Noise Downstairs – [review]

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That’s it. What do you think? Would you consider giving this challenge a go? What do you think of my choices? Will I make it or fail miserably? And on a scale of 1 to 10, how crazy do you think I am now? 😂

Wish me luck! xx

 

Juliet & Romeo by David Hewson @david_hewson @DomePress #blogtour #guestpost #review

Delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for Juliet & Romeo by David Hewson today. My thanks to the publisher for the invitation to join and my wonderful review copy!

Author David Hewson joins me on the blog today with a fantastic guest post on why he feels it’s perfectly acceptable to faff around with all things Shakespeare and I’ll also be sharing my thoughts on this novel retelling.

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Author : David Hewson
Title : Juliet & Romeo
Pages : 256
Publisher : Dome Press
Publication date : May 17, 2018

aboutthebook

Shakespeare’s most well-known and well-loved play has been turned into a gripping romantic thriller with a modern twist. Rich with the sights and smells of medieval Verona, peopled with a vibrant cast of characters who spring from the page, this is Shakespeare as you’ve never read it before – and with a killer twist at the end.

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Ten Reasons to Mess with Shakespeare By David Hewson

People sometimes wave their red, white and blue flags in the air and demand, ‘How dare you faff around with Shakespeare? He is England’s finest, his words as holy as the Bible. He must always appear untouched as nature intended.’

Here are ten reasons why such statements are balderdash.

One

There’s no such thing as ‘the Bible’. Just lots of versions of a Hebrew original of uncertain provenance, sometimes in questionable translations that may have strayed some way from the original meaning. Oh, and arguments rage continually about what should and shouldn’t be included. It’s much the same with Shakespeare. See the ‘bad folio’ of Hamlet which is shorter and a lot less wordy than the accepted version we get in schools. Shakespeare didn’t leave behind any Word docx files or even an original manuscript. What we have tends to come from folios that are remembered scripts written down by performers. In fact…

Two

What you think is Shakespeare may not be Shakespeare at all. I’m not going to step into any of the ‘he was really someone else’ controversies here. But the plain fact is that the plays do contain material that we know comes from other quarters and other hands. Take the three witches summoning Hecate in Macbeth Act III, Scene Five. Spooky stuff, often left out in performance because it’s a bit over the top. And most academics think Shakespeare never wrote it. And then there are the occasions when…

Three

Shakespeare just nicked stuff. Plagiarism wasn’t a big deal in the sixteenth century. People ‘borrowed’ themes, story ideas, plots and even actual prose from time to time. Shakespeare certainly did the first two. The vast majority of his dramas – Romeo and Juliet included – used a variety of plays, novels and history books as their inspiration, and freely adapted them using his own imagination. What’s good for the goose…

Four

The Shakespeare you think you know may not be ‘real’ at all. Most of has have grown up with his tales from school and his phrases – from ‘milk of human kindness’ to ‘all our yesterdays’ (both from Macbeth) – are scattered throughout the English language. But often what we believe to be the stories are simplified versions passed on almost by tradition and reinforced by stagings, moviies and TV versions that have followed. Take Lady Macbeth, an infamous figure who’s inspired everything from opera to the name of a science fiction spaceship. The archetypal evil woman or so most people think.

Now she’s no saint. But if you read the text carefully it’s only certain she participates in the murder of King Duncan, not the later slaughters of Banquo and Macduff’s family. She may be innocent of them. And how did she die? Suicide most people say, though the text is quite unclear on that point. There’s a lot unsaid in Shakespeare which is one reason why…

Five

Theatre messes round with old Will all the time. The originals are too open to interpretation, almost demanding they be changed, to allow for that. Take Patrick Stewart’s wonderful Macbeth a few years back. This was very much of the devilish Macbeth variety. In it he takes part in the slaughter of the Macduffs in person which is not in the play. Take the recent film version with Michael Fassbender. It opens with the funeral of their infant son – a scene which isn’t in the play at all. Though Lady M has a throwaway line in which she reveals she lost a baby – something any modern dramatist will naturally seize upon.

The idea of a definitive version of Shakespeare is plain nonsense.

Six

There’s a reason why my version is called Juliet and Romeo and not the other way round. With Shakespeare you all too often get just half the woman’s side of the story at most. Many of his female characters are either weak victims (Ophelia in Hamlet, Lady Anne Neville in Richard III who, cough, cough, is wooed by Richard at the funeral of her husband Richard just murdered). Or else they’re harpies (Lady Macbeth and Queen Margaret in Richard III).

There’s a reason why Shakespeare must have struggled with female characters – he couldn’t work with them on stage. It was illegal for women to act in public until sixty years or so after Shakespeare died. So all the female parts were taken by men or boys. This is a hell of a handicap to be working under especially when you consider that…

Seven

In Romeo and Juliet, it’s Juliet who’s really in jeopardy. Romeo is a lovestruck youth who’s desperate for a girlfriend and some poetry. Juliet is an intelligent young woman facing a fate that she regards as a death sentence – forced marriage to a man, Count Paris, she doesn’t know, primarily because her father thinks it will be good for business and in any case that’s his decision to make.

The more I read the play and the Italian versions Shakespeare pillaged and changed for his plot, the more I became convinced this was much more Juliet’s story than Romeo’s. If he loses his girlfriend he can always find another. If she married Paris… that’s it. If Shakespeare had been working with a woman editor like most writers today someone somewhere along the line would surely have gripped him by the shoulder and said, ‘Oi, mate. What about the girl?’

Eight

I like history which didn’t much matter at all to old Will. We know the story takes place in Verona but there’s not a clue when. Is that important? Not necessarily but it can be made important which is what adaptation is all about. So I place this tale in the real Verona where I spent a happy two weeks researching it, and at a pivotal time in history, 1499, when the shift in human perspective we now call the Renaissance was just beginning across Italy. Juliet is a smart young woman who wants to choose her life for herself. There’s no better time.

Nine

Different media demand different endings. When I adapted The Killing stories from TV to novel I found I had to come up with new endings because the dramatic ones didn’t work on the page. With plays the stage is the boss and tells you when a story’s over. With a book you can’t just say, ‘Curtain falls, go home.’ Novels mustn’t just end, they need to resolve. And that is why the closing scene of Juliet and Romeo may not be the one you expect.

Ten

And this most important of all… because you can. Stories are living things, always capable of change. I wanted to see the tale of Juliet and Romeo through the prism of a modern perspective and ask the question… how much has really changed?

From recent history you’d have to say… not as much as perhaps we thought.

[Thank you so much, David Hewson, for this incredibly insightful and interesting piece!]

mythoughts

I’ve never actually read Romeo and Juliet. I’ve tried but Shakespeare tends to go right over my head. I am of course familiar with their story, as I’m sure most of you are as well. Two rivalling families in the city of Verona, Italy. The son of the one family falls in love with the daughter of the other. Chaos ensues. Everybody dies. Something like that anyway. 😉

Admittedly, I was a little unsure about picking this one up. Proof of how shallow I am, lies in me confessing to you that I pretty much only opted to read this book as it was endorsed by Richard Armitage. Incidentally, he also apparently did the audio version which, even though I’m not a fan of audio books, I’ve been eying for a while now because Richard’s voice does funny things to me. He could read a good old fashioned phone guide to me and I’d be a puddle of goo. I’m sure you didn’t really need to know that so let’s quickly move on. (Note that the audio version has been nominated for this year’s Audies)

Seeing as I don’t have any previous experience with this story, I was pleasantly surprised by this retelling. Sixteen year old Juliet is a fierce and fabulous young lady. However, her father is trying to arrange a marriage for her and this doesn’t sit well with Juliet at all. There’s more to life than getting married, after all. During a banquet, Juliet meets Romeo.  Aw, young love. But then Romeo is banished from the city and everything goes to pot.

The atmosphere and the setting in Verona drew me in from the start. I could almost see myself wandering around the market stalls, smelling meats and whatnot, hear the horses and the chiming of the bell tower. The characters were really well written. Romeo, the quiet kind, the dreamer, the wanna-be poet. Although quite frankly I didn’t think he was very good with words at all. His family wants to send him off to study to become a lawyer.

But the one who stole the scene every single time was most definitely Juliet. She’s intelligent, wants to be independent and questions everything. I adored her spirit, her determination, her sheer belief that in that particular era, she could be whomever she wants to be. And let’s not forget Nurse, who made me chuckle numerous times with her endless and sometimes rather embarrassing ramblings.

This modern retelling works really well. Sure, there’s a lot of drama and I was actually stunned to see how many things happen in a really short period of time. But I was utterly enthralled and captivated. Even the author’s notes held my interest and if you grab yourself a copy of this, you should definitely read them.

For those, like me, who wanted and have tried to read Shakespeare, this is a fabulous way of being introduced to his stories without suffering a major headache and thinking your knowledge of the English language is non-existent all of a sudden. Although it does bear pointing out that David Hewson did make changes from the original Romeo and Juliet and based his interpretation more so on previous versions than the one we all know.

Intrigue, murder, sword fights, a dash of romance and a few chuckles … what more could you possibly want? I found this to be thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable!

Juliet & Romeo is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

David Hewson is the author of more than 20 published novels including the Pieter Vos series set in Amsterdam and the Nic Costa books set in Rome.

His acclaimed book adaptations of The Killing television series were published around the world. His audio adaptations of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Hamlet with A.J. Hartley, narrated by Alan Cumming and Richard Armitage respectively, were both shortlisted for Audie Awards.

A former journalist with the Sunday Times, Independent and The Times he lives in Kent. His first book with The Dome Press, Juliet and Romeo, will be published in May 2018.

Author links : Twitter | Website

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Dying Truth by Angela Marsons @WriteAngie @bookouture

I am beyond excited to be kicking off the blog blitz for Dying Truth by Angela Marsons today, alongside a bunch of amazing bloggers! Make sure you check out their stops as well!

Happy publication day, Angela! And huge thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for the invitation and my review copy!

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Author : Angela Marsons
Title : Dying Truth
Series : DI Kim Stone #8
Pages : 399
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : May 18, 2018

aboutthebook

How far would you go to protect your darkest secrets?

When teenager Sadie Winter jumps from the roof of her school, her death is ruled as suicide – a final devastating act from a troubled girl. But then the broken body of a young boy is discovered at the same school and it’s clear to Detective Kim Stone that these deaths are not tragic accidents.

As Kim and her team begin to unravel a dark web of secrets, one of the teachers could hold the key to the truth. Yet just as she is about to break her silence, she is found dead.

With more children’s lives at risk, Kim has to consider the unthinkable – whether a fellow pupil could be responsible for the murders. Investigating the psychology of children that kill brings the detective into contact with her former adversary, Dr Alex Thorne – the sociopath who has made it her life’s work to destroy Kim.

Desperate to catch the killer, Kim finds a link between the recent murders and an initiation prank that happened at the school decades earlier. But saving these innocent lives comes at a cost – and one of Kim’s own might pay the ultimate price.

mythoughts

WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?!

I can’t. Sorry, just can’t. *blows nose* Please buy the book, read it for yourself, come back and talk to me or find yourself a good therapist.

What do you mean, this doesn’t constitute as a review? I’m not sure what else I can say. There are no words, people! I am writing this five minutes after finishing the book and I’m reeling! I’m not entirely sure I can string together a coherent sentence but I’ll try.

Have some tips first. Cancel all your plans. If you have kids, send them to grandparents, babysitters, wherever. If you have a partner, make sure they stay out of your way. Tie them up if need be, do whatever it takes. You will not want to be interrupted or distracted! Grab a bottle of alcohol of your choice and tissues. Aftercare and therapeutic conversation is available for those who need it.

First of all, let me just say, I love a great boarding school setting. Heathcrest Academy is specifically for the off-spring of the rich and famous. And boy, are they an arrogant bunch of kids. There were a few I would quite happily have given a bit of a spanking to wipe the smug smile off their faces. Talk about being entitled and thinking you’re better than anyone else. Sheesh.

It’s in this environment that thirteen year old Sadie Winter is found dead from an apparent suicide. Sadie seems to be somewhat of an outsider. Not particularly liked, nor particularly hated. Quite frankly, nobody really knew her. So what would cause such a young girl to jump from a roof and end her life? DI Kim Stone quickly realises things are not what they seem.

From the very first page, it’s as if someone has wrapped their hands around your neck and you’re left gasping for air. The prologue sets the tone for things to come and the pace doesn’t let up. Heathcrest has secrets and skeletons galore hiding behind their fancy wood panelled walls. With staff and influential parents desperate to avoid any type of scandal, Kim and her team have their work cut out for them jumping over various obstacles to get to the truth.

You’ve probably noticed from the book description that fans of the series can rejoice at the return of Dr Alex Thorne as Kim wants to learn more about the psychology behind children murdering other children. Are they born evil? Why did they do what they did? Do any of them show remorse or even remotely understand that what they did was wrong? Who better to ask than Alex, my favourite resident psycho?

And then … there’s this thing … I can’t talk about it. I mean, really, as it would give too much away. But also, whew, the emotions … *sniff* … I just can’t. If you’ve been following this series, be prepared for some major ugly crying.

Dying Truth is a dark, disturbing, harrowing and utterly absorbing tale. Angela Marsons ripped out my heart, shred it to pieces and stomped all over it. I love it! And her. If you’re one of those people who think a long-standing series loses its shine and lustre after a while, Angela is here to make you revise your flawed theory. I absolutely can’t wait to see what happens to Kim Stone and her team next. I don’t even care who I have to bribe (or hurt) to be first in line.

Dying Truth is out today!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Google Play | iBook StoreKobo | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Angela Marsons is the author of the International Bestselling DI Kim Stone series and her books have sold more than 2 million in 2 years.

She lives in the Black Country with her partner, their cheeky Golden Retriever and a swearing parrot.

She first discovered her love of writing at Junior School when actual lessons came second to watching other people and quietly making up her own stories about them. Her report card invariably read “Angela would do well if she minded her own business as well as she minds other people’s”.

After years of writing relationship based stories (The Forgotten Woman and Dear Mother) Angela turned to Crime, fictionally speaking of course, and developed a character that refused to go away.

She is signed to Bookouture.com for a total of 16 books in the Kim Stone series and her books have been translated into more than 27 languages.

Her last three books – Blood Lines, Dead Souls and Broken Bones – reached the #1 spot on Amazon on pre-orders alone.

Author links : Twitter

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Meet Me At The Museum by Anne Youngson @DoubledayUK @annecater #blogtour #RandomThingsTours

Good morning and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Meet Me At The Museum by Anne Youngson. My thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation to join the tour and to the publisher for my review copy!

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Author : Anne Youngson
Title : Meet Me At The Museum
Pages : 224
Publisher : Doubleday / Transworld Digital
Publication date : May 17, 2018

aboutthebook

Sometimes it takes a stranger to really know who you are

When Tina Hopgood writes a letter of regret to a man she has never met, she doesn’t expect a reply.

When Anders Larsen, a lonely museum curator, answers it, nor does he.

They’re both searching for something, they just don’t know it yet.

Anders has lost his wife, along with his hopes and dreams for the future. Tina is trapped in a marriage she doesn’t remember choosing.

Slowly their correspondence blossoms as they bare their souls to each other with stories of joy, anguish and discovery. But then Tina’s letters suddenly cease, and Anders is thrown into despair.

Can their unexpected friendship survive?

mythoughts

The story of Meet Me At The Museum starts when Tina Hopgood emails a professor at a museum in Denmark. She and her best friend have always wanted to visit the museum to view an archeological discovery that has held their interest. But now Tina’s friend has died and Tina regrets never having made the journey.

She doesn’t expect a reply and as it turns out the professor she tried to contact has long since died himself. But her letter is picked up by Anders Larsen, the current curator.  What starts as talk about archeology, over time develops into a deep and fulfilling friendship.

Both Anders and Tina are incredibly lonely. Anders lost his wife of thirty years, although he’s not quite sure he ever truly had her in the first place. His two children live quite far from him and all he has is his work. Tina is a farmer’s wife. She has a husband, three children and a few grandchildren. And yet, she feels lonely too. This isn’t exactly the life she chose for herself. She was thrust into it and she wonders what her life would have been like if she’d been able to make another decision.

Meet Me At The Museum is entirely written in letters between Tina and Anders. The topics vary from archeology, to every day life and as their friendship deepens, they find themselves revealing things they haven’t even discussed with those closest to them. Ultimately, life will change for both of them. For instance, Tina’s letters encourage Anders to look around himself more, to appreciate nature and to let go of certain things. I quite liked Anders and sympathised with him. I found Tina, on the other hand, a little harder to connect to. While I could understand her situation, her indecisiveness got to me sometimes.

This is a beautifully written and moving story about an unlikely friendship, about how someone you’ve never met and may never meet knows you better than the people around you, about how it’s never too late to make a change. I found the concept of the correspondence a little hard to get into at first but once I got to grips with it and the characters’ personalities began to shine through, it ended up being rather enthralling and captivating. Tina and Anders will capture your heart and you will root for them all the way. A very accomplished debut by Anne Youngson.

Meet Me At The Museum will be published tomorrow!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

ANNE YOUNGSON worked for many years in senior management in the car industry before embarking on a creative career as a writer. She has supported many charities in governance roles, including Chair of the Writers in Prison Network, which provided residencies in prisons for writers. She lives in Oxfordshire and is married with two children and three grandchildren to date. MEET ME AT THE MUSEUM is her debut novel, which is due to be published around the world.

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The Night of the Party by Rachael English @EnglishRachael @HachetteIre

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Author : Rachael English
Title : The Night of the Party
Pages : 393
Publisher : Hachette Ireland
Publication Day : May 3, 2018

aboutthebook

January 1982: In the village of Kilmitten, the Crossan family are holding their annual party during the biggest snowstorm Ireland has seen in decades. By the end of the night, the parish priest, Father Leo Galvin, is dead.

The lives of four teenagers – Tom, Conor, Tess and Nina – who had been drinking beer and smoking in a shed at the back of the house, will never be the same. But one of them carries a secret from that night that he has never shared.

The friends go on to lead very different, separate lives – some quiet, others in the media spotlight – but the four remain connected by what happened during the time of the big snow.

As the thirty-fifth anniversary of Father Galvin’s murder approaches, Conor, now a senior police officer, becomes obsessed with the crime his father failed to solve. He believes that Tom can help identify Father Galvin’s killer. But does Tom wish to break his silence?

His dilemma draws the four friends back together, forcing them to question their lives and to confront their differences. But only Tom can decide whether Kilmitten’s secret will finally be revealed.

mythoughts

I absolutely loved Rachael English’s previous novel, The American Girl. So much so, that I was never quite able to put it into words and the review remained unwritten. Since then, I sat eagerly awaiting the author’s next offering and it sure was worth the wait. The Night of the Party and its various characters had me completely enthralled.

The story begins in 1982 when Tom’s parents throw their annual January party during a massive snowstorm. By the end of the night the parish priest, Father Leo Galvin, is dead. The lives of Tom and his friends, and the other villagers, will never quite be the same again. Kilmitten is a quiet village, where nothing ever happens and the priest’s death rocks this little community to its very core. It will take thirty-five years for this mystery to be solved and the story follows Tom, Conor, Tess and Nina throughout the decades. As Tom and his friends go on with their lives, the mystery surrounding Father Leo’s death remains with them. Some won’t rest until it is is solved, others wish the whole thing would just go away.

I was a teenager in the 80’s myself and so I truly enjoy stories set in that era. Despite the fact they make me feel rather ancient. The mention of certain bands or items of clothing is enough to turn me into a gigantic puddle of nostalgic goo. The struggles Tom and his friends go through felt quite relatable. There’s always that one friend who seems to have everything together and knows exactly what to do with their life. And there’s the one who doesn’t have a clue, who drifts from course to course, from job to job and hopes some day they’ll figure it out. (That was me, in case you wondered. Still haven’t figure it out 😉)

As an avid crime fiction reader, you’d think I’d be all about trying to solve the case of Father Leo’s death. While I admit it was always in the back of my mind, I actually found myself utterly absorbed by the lives of Tom and his friends. Their careers, or lack thereof, their relationships, families, hopes and dreams, lost loves and grief … it was all brilliantly engaging and I cared about these characters, rooted for them, urged them on and sometimes felt sorry for them as well.

Set in the lovely surroundings of Ireland, this beautifully written tale kept me engrossed from start to finish. The Night of the Party is a truly wonderful story about friendship, secrets and life in a small community with characters I began to miss as soon as I turned the final page. The journey through the decades really highlights the differences in the way lives were led, beliefs and thoughts changed, albeit it a slower pace in a village like Kilmitten. This is a captivating and enchanting story that wormed its way into my heart and I very much look forward to whatever is next from Rachael English.

My thanks to Rachael English for my stunning copy!

The Night of the Party is available for purchase.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

Pressure by Betsy Reavley @BetsyReavley @Bloodhoundbook #blogblitz

Happy weekend and welcome to my stop on the blog blitz for Pressure by Betsy Reavley. My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the invitation and my review copy!

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Author : Betsy Reavley
Title : Pressure
Pages : 220
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : May 4, 2018

aboutthebook

When the submarine departed, none of the ten people on board knew it would turn into a nightmare.

Trapped on the sunken vessel and unable to escape, one of them is discovered dead. The tension escalates as the survivors realise there is a murderer among them, who is preparing to strike again and again…

With mounting desperation, people begin to turn on each other. While they struggle to identify who is responsible, each must contend with their own past and the secrets they are hiding.

But who is who? And which of them will be next to die?

mythoughts

Not sure I’ve ever mentioned this before, but little old me and water do not mix. I hate drinking it, I don’t particularly enjoy flying over it, I don’t like being in it or on it and I most certainly wouldn’t want to be under it. So obviously reading about a submarine stuck at the bottom of the ocean is a perfect choice of book for me. 😄

Pressure has all the hallmarks of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Throw a bunch of people together in a closed environment with no means of escape and put a murderer amongst them. Except this isn’t a fancy manor in the countryside or a remote island but a submarine. Quite frankly, for me it’s the stuff of nightmares.

Due to a technical error, the submarine loses power and ends up at the bottom of the ocean. With limited supply in food and oxygen and no means of escape, tempers start to rise and then someone is found dead. The remaining crew members begin to turn on one another and the pressure builds up in more ways than one.

There are ten people on board. Bit by bit, they are introduced to us. They explain where they came from, their secrets and dreams and how they came to be on the submarine in the first place. None of these characters are particularly likeable and being stuck together like this sure brings out the worst in them. There are also flashback chapters from one of the people on board, describing their absolutely horrid, heartbreaking and harrowing childhood.

I quite early on figured out who the killer was but that didn’t ruin my reading experience at all. Pressure is a gripping and compelling story that held my attention throughout. It’s tense with a dark, threatening and claustrophobic feel to it. While I was worried that the outcome would be completely predictable, I was surprised and glad to see it wasn’t at all. I think this would make an excellent movie, to be honest. You know, if you like water and all. 😉

Pressure is available for purchase!

Amazon US | Amazon UKGoodreads

abouttheauthor

Author of  The Quiet OnesThe Optician’s Wife,  Frailty, CarrionBeneath the Watery Moon and the poetry collection The Worm in the Bottle.

Betsy was born in Hammersmith, London. As a child she moved around frequently with her family, spending time in London, Provence, Tuscany, Gloucestershire and Cambridgeshire. She showed a flair for literature and writing from a young age and had a particular interest in poetry, of which she was a prolific consumer and producer.

In her early twenties she moved to Oxford, where she would eventually meet her husband. During her time in Oxford her interests turned from poetry to novels and she began to develop her own unique style of psychological thriller.

Betsy says “I believe people are at their most fascinating when they are faced by the dark side of life. This is what I like to write about.”

Betsy Reavley currently lives in London, with her husband, 2 children, dog, cat and chickens.

You can follow her on Twitter @BetsyReavley

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